Leaflet Distributed in Boston
By Ron Newman
[Note from archiver: I have tried to format this document roughly
according to the formatting instructions Ron originally put in the
I distributed the following leaflet at last night's
annual meeting of the American Civil Liberties Union
of Massachusetts. Feel free to reproduce or adapt it
to your own needs.
Protect Free Speech
on the Internet!
A religious cult calling itself the "Church" of Scientology is trying to
suppress Internet discussions of its beliefs and actions.
In the past five months, they've
Scientology's hostility to free speech goes back long before the
Internet. The cult has harassed countless writers and journalists
over the past 25 years. They've tried to keep hostile books off the
market, and filed numerous groundless libel and copyright-infringement
suits against their authors and publishers. They even managed to get
one critic, writer Paulette Cooper, indicted for sending a bomb
threat. Years later, Cooper discovered that Scientologists had stolen
stationery from her apartment and forged that bomb threat themselves.
tried to remove the Usenet discussion group alt.religion.scientology
- tried to censor that discussion group by deleting ("cancelling") articles
posted by opponents of the cult
- misused the authority of Interpol to violate the confidentiality
of a Finnish "anonymous remailing service", and e-mailed legal threats
to operators of other anonymous remailers
- obtained, under false pretenses, a "civil writ of seizure" from a Federal
judge in San Jose. With this improper court order, they invaded the
Glendale, California, home of Dennis Erlich, a former minister
(and current opponent) of the cult. Starting at 7:30 am and
continuing for over six hours, representative of the cult
ransacked Erlich's house, copying and deleting large numbers of files from
his computer hard disk and floppy disks. This search and seizure was
not properly supervised by either police or Federal marshals.
- Filed a Federal lawsuit against Erlich, his bulletin board service, and his
Internet service provider (Netcom), claiming copyright and trade secret
infringements. (How can a religion have Rtrade secretsS?) The suit seeks
to prevent Erlich from further participation in the Internet discussions of
Scientology. This is a SLAPP suit (Strategic Litigation Against Public
Participation), clearly intended to deprive a critic of his right to free
- Sent private detectives to harass a number of other opponents of the cult
who participate in the Internet discussion of Scientology.
For more information on all of the above,
read this World Wide Web page:
After you read this, I hope you'll agree that it's time to shut down
the Scientology barratry machine. The Electronic Frontier Foundation
has recognized that Scientology's suit against Dennis Erlich is a
threat to everybody's free speech on the Net. Please send donations to
The Electronic Frontier Foundation
Make checks out to "Electronic Frontier Foundation", and write "Dennis Erlich
Defense Fund" on your check.
1667 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006
This leaflet is a private effort. It was not funded or authorized by Dennis
Erlich or the Electronic Frontier Foundation.